Dreien Opportunity Partners is in the final stages of purchasing the former Parkland Hospital complex on Harry Hines Boulevard, but CEO Sam Ware had a clear vision for the 1954-era renovation from the first moment he toured the project.
Ware envisioned several housing types, including for-sale condos, active adult housing, and micro apartment units earmarked for medical personnel like nurses. And that’s exactly what he plans to create in the 38-acre hospital campus within Dallas’ Medical District which employs about 34,000 people, has 4 million visitors annually, and includes hospitals like UT Southwestern Medical Center, Children’s Medical Center, and the new Parkland Memorial Hospital.
Dreien, which is working with HKS Architects to preserve the historic structure, has released preliminary plans on the mix of uses and proposed expansion. Dreien will rebrand the project as The District and rework all 12 levels of the existing structure (including two basement levels and 10 above-ground levels).
Ware is also in the process of buying Collin Creek Mall in Plano, which he plans to turn into a San Antonio Riverwalk-esque shopping destination. In 2016, Ware purchased the former J.C. Penney headquarters and has repositioned the asset (now called The Campus at Legacy West) as a multi-tenant office campus that will welcome NTT Data as its newest tenant later this year.
Ware says he was attracted to Parkland largely because of the building’s history. John F. Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald, and Jack Ruby all died in the hospital. Plans for the remake include a 159-key boutique hotel that will serve as the “front door” of the project. Ware says the hotel will cater to long-term stays by family members of hospital patients with things like reduced room rates if guests choose not to have rooms cleaned daily.
To determine the best format for the 229 for-sale condos, Ware informally polled real estate agents about what housing types are sorely missing in the market. From that, he determined that condos averaging 1,000 square feet and costing about $500,000 would be well-received in the redo. Senior housing for active adults will also serve as a major component of the update, though the exact number of units has yet to be determined.
Dreien plans to make housing more proximate and affordable to hospital staff by creating 629 micro units averaging about 250 or 300 square feet. By knowing his target residents beforehand, Ware can better cater to medical staff. For example, Dreien will take special care to make corridors sound proof because nurses can be coming and going at all hours of the night and keep atypical sleep schedules.
A proposed conference center of 20,000 square feet could play host to medical conferences and educational events. Retail space will include many healthy food options, craft coffee, daily service uses, and potential space for a food hall. Other amenities include lots of open space, bike sharing, bike racks, connectivity to DART and TRE, and a fitness center accessible to residents, hotel guests, and medical staff.
Ware has been adamant from his initial involvement that he will keep the existing structure standing. “Tearing [Parkland] down would be criminal,” Ware says. “It has another 100 years left, and that’s what we’re going to give it.”